Visual Arts

Between Kindergarten and sixth grade, students visit with the art specialist weekly, and middle school students have two art periods per week. Meeting consistently throughout the year enables our art program to be comprehensive and offer our children many new experiences.

Girl painting a wall mural.

In addition to the more traditional media of paint, pencil, pen and ink, our students enjoy creating in clay and mixed media. They design masks, create sculpture from found objects, experience printmaking, and create colorful designs with dye on silk. They produce mosaics and computer-generated design. Field trips to view artwork or trips to locations where sketching opportunities abound are an integral part of the art curriculum. As a capstone experience, 8th graders take inspiration from a classic or contemporary artist and paint a reproduction on a wooden chair in that style.

A special highlight of our curriculum is the Visiting Artist program. Working artists from the region spend a week teaching and inspiring our students during their regular art classes. Through this program they have been exposed to printmaking, ceramics, multi-media collage, creating mandalas, and other art forms.

28th Annual Student Art Show
Every Swain student – from Preschool through eighth grade – has at least one work displayed at the spring show, this year scheduled for Tuesday, April 25 – Friday, April 28, 2017. This incredible showcase features hundreds of unique works, and is viewed by an appreciative audience of families, friends and the general public. Rising 8th graders choose a theme for the art show, which the entire show reflects - this year's is "The Ocean"

Theatre and Drama

Middle school girl onstage, giving a speech.

We teach drama skills to all students from Kindergarten through eighth grade as an integral part of our curriculum. The theatre specialist uses elements of music, visual arts, dance and movement to spark students’ imaginations … focusing on creativity, collaboration and cooperation.

For example, rather than performing a prepared script, students are asked to create visual images with paint while they listen to classical music. Or, listening to another selection, they position themselves into a tableau — or, living picture — that the music suggests to them.


Beginning School students experience music through song, rhythm, movement and listening. A music specialist visits each Preschool and Prekindergarten classroom once a week for singing, creative movement, and finger plays. Starting in Kindergarten, students visit the music specialist’s classroom for singing, playing Orff (marimba-like) instruments, and learning musical concepts through games.

Three grade school students play chimes onstage in a concert.

Children in the lower elementary grades are exposed to music twice a week. An eclectic variety of musical experiences include playing notes, phrases, and improvising accompaniments on the Orff instruments.

Third-, fourth- and fifth graders sing in a treble chorus and learn music expression from around the world.

For our older students, music is a multicultural experience. Sixth grade students learn to play recorders, seventh graders begin classical guitar lessons, and African drumming is presented to eighth grade students. Interested students form vocal and instrumental ensembles.

Instrumental Lessons
Beginning in fourth grade, students may elect to take instrumental lessons. Group lessons are offered weekly for brass, woodwinds and percussion. Beginning musicians can participate in the school band with the older students. A Jazz Band is formed from interested students, and all of these groups perform at school functions throughout the year. Interested students are also encouraged to accompany the vocalists on guitar, bass and percussion.

Students interested in taking piano lessons at Swain (new and continuing students) can sign up with independent piano teacher Lisa Burnett. She teaches lessons at Swain, during the school day and also before- and after-school (limited slots available). Visit her website for details; the next session begins the week of Feb. 20.

Students of all ages have numerous opportunities to perform individually and in small groups, in intimate classroom settings to all-school performances. Some of these include the Founder’s Day program, Thanksgiving assembly, winter concerts, spring concert, graduation, and closing ceremonies.

Powered by Finalsite